Author Archive

Profile photo of Civil College

Improving the future of Pep-net

17. May 2010 – 09:45 by Civil College

During the last member meeting of Pep-net in Krems, we have made several statements about the future perspectives of Pep-net and the paths, how we should get there. A common point of view, that members have shared collectively during the meeting that we need good leadership to the path as well, how we plan to formulate future Pep-net. I am recommending two opinions for designing and planning our common future.

The first one is a connecting discussion in a LinkedIn group:

What are for practitioners the key aspects of good governance and management practices (particularly for NPOs).
Imagine you get suddenly involved in a new NPO, what are for you the fist aspects or characteristics to look at to get an idea whether they are “best-in-class” or rather “not at al best-in-class”? In fact, what is your ‘short check list’ to get your first impression?

The group discussion contains several key document links, which can help to formulate an opinion about an organization’s state of management.

The other one is a book, that I strongly recommend to all readers – if you have not read the great book Leadership from Below from Trond Arne Undheim, which is giving a great perspective, how to lead an organization, from below of yourself.

leadership_From_belowHappy Monday to all readers!

Profile photo of Civil College

Why eParticipation/eGovernment and eDemocracy community has to deal with ECI?

14. May 2010 – 22:07 by Civil College

opinion of Madarász Csaba

However the debate is reaching new heights by the expressed needs of the European Civil Society actors – gathered last week in Salzburg at the European Citizen’s Initiative Summit 2010 –  by formulating the fears and proposed changes in the Salzburg Manifesto and presented at the public hearing yesterday organized in Bruxelles.

European Civil society is now criticising various aspects of the Commission  proposed regulation, such as the admissibility check procedure, the provided time for the consultation, the needed infrastructure. The vast citizen group is putting attention to the forthcoming challenges: they have already started to build the needed infrastructure to support the practical application of the ECI (read more about it in the Manifesto).

(grab the documents here)

Ladies and Gentlemen! Dear Collegues!

I am wondering, where are we eGovernment, eParticipation and eDemocracy experts in this process? I mean, do we know, what the ECI is about? I am not really sure..But if we get know it’s current state, we might start to feel the natural challenge, to improve it..

What sort of challenge?

To lift ECI, the direct democratic instrument from 0.1 to ECI2.0: with the support of eGovernment.

The current verision of the Commission’s draft regulation is really not designed to our age – I have a personal impression, that communication is not really good between the different DGs. I do not know, what other reasons could limitthe current vision of the ECI, and preventing it to become a flagship of European  trans/policy-governmental project. It really could be!But how?

Here is my recipe:

0. we have the heat and the need coming from citizens to cook together (policy), - this is the ECI

1. We have the Malmö Ministerial declaration, which is showing the path to countries (and even the European Commissioin) towards the web 2.0 and citizen friendly governance (by the way, the Hungarian Government, or responsible actors did not even translated it into Hungarian! Does this makes sense? I mean, do really citizens has to monitor these sort of things??)

2. We have the spice making it tasty for “upgrading” public services in Europe: it is the Open Declaration on Public Services

3. We aslo have the recently adopted Granada Declaration – highlighting the need for e-IDs and e-Signatures, interoperability and open standards, making the issue accessible and interoperable.

4. We also have the EIS - the European Interoperability Strategy as a technical bowl for these kind of issues, like the ECI

So what’s now?

I think it is time to move in. This ship can go, and all the money, that EU has spent on eDemocracy and eParticipation networks, projects, policy and research could loose it’s value if we do not stand up for the needed and obvious improvement of the first direct democracy instrument, provided after the Lisbon Treaty.

This is the practical time, when we need to add our knowledge to the process. No need to fear, it is time for change.


Questions regarding positioning the ECI 2.0:
  1. Is ECI a serivce of Governments or the European Government? Is European Commission a governing organization?
  2. If it is (any of the above) than ECI is a service for citizens and it is related to eGovernment, eDemocracy and eParticipation!
  3. If it is related to the areas – why we have not heard the existing expert networks opinion on this issue? EC pays a lot to sustain, create these networks. EC has to ask advice not only in the light of recent declaration from us on how to create the best ECI!
  4. Does the EC play and administrative role? If yes, than these recently adopted declarations and recommendations are also true for the EC. We need to take a fresh look on the ECI-EC relation in accordance to the questions lifted here!
Important facts about ECI 2.0:
Core technical basics
  1. In align with European Strategy for Interoperability of public services, interoperable system for the management of initiatives need to lay down the basics of ECI 2.0 (this means a standardized interface and functionality, which can be embedded and reached from various portals – for example the one-stop-shop egovernment portals/central government websites after “regular”, national authentication)
  2. The application should be based on open standards for further development by independent parties (we need APIs!)
  3. The system shall pave the way or embed the basics of the European-e-ID
Core designing basics
  1. design the service with different stakeholders
  2. set the basic technical framework and apply the best corwdsourcing methodologies to engage interested countries, developers …
  3. make it a good governance example!
We should not forget, why else eGovernment is important:
1. With the right approach to develop a supporting system – framework for ECI 2.0 -, the time needed for international signature collection, verification can be dramatically reduced
2. Costs related to campaigning and organizing can be also cut back seriously, by embedded supporting instruments (even created by the civil society)
3. ECI 2.0 approach takes down the responsibility from the organizers shoulder to provide a secure and reliable electronic system for collecting and validating signatures.
4. ECI 2.0 becomes an intergovernmental and G2C, C2C, G2G service – which means, that any country/provider can develop extra functionalities for making the application better (later about these)
5. ECI 2.0 can save a lot of trees, energy and water.
How can ECI 2.0 save our European trees, reduce water and energy consumption?
  • using the possibilities of e-government and e-administration is an eco friendly approach
  • 1 000 000 signature on the current format needs approximately 1million sheets of A4 paper.
  • that means 4 tons of paper/initiative which app. means (if it is white paper)  8800 kgs of wood, 140000 liter of water, and 32000 kW of energy from the production side.
  • extra costs and ecological footprint of moving, storing and guarding papers and their human “partners”
Please comment and check some of the related videos here:

Profile photo of Civil College

European Citizens Initiative: The toothless tiger – Livestreaming EU Parliament

12. May 2010 – 13:53 by Civil College
What can e-dentist do?

What can e-dentists do?

After the Salzburg consultation on the ECI initiative, today in Bruxelles the ECI continues on.

There are several questions still open on finding the balanced way of supporting ECI from the Commission and the countries – current versions are putting to much on the shoulders of the future initiative organizers – Carsten Berg, ECI coordinator called for action recently on the ECI blog.
There are several issues, which I think personally, calling the e-government and e-participation community into action.
More coming soon..
here is the program:

Livestream: Hearing European Parliament – Brussels:

Wednesday 12 May 2010 14:30-18:00



  • Rebecca Harms, Co-President of the Greens/EFA Group of the European Parliament



  • Prof. Jürgen Meyer, Former member of the German Bundestag as well as of the Convention on the Future of Europe and the Convention on the Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • Maroš Šef?ovi?, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration
  • Bruno Kaufmann, Director of the Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe (IRI)
  • Gerald Häfner,Coordinator of the Green/EFA group in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and member of the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament



Introduction of the questions by Gerald Häfner

  • How representative shall a European Citizens’ Initiative be and what should be the minimum number of Member States? (Art.7)
  • Which rules and procedures should be established for the collection and verification of signatures? (Art. 5, 6, 9, 12, 14)
  • Which rules shall apply for checking the admissibility of an ECI?(Art. 4, 8)
  • How should European institutions respond to a successful ECI? (Art. 11)
  • Do ECI organisers need support for setting up an initiative?



  • Eva Lichtenberger, Vice-President of the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament
  • Isabelle Durant, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Member of the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament
  • Gerald Häfner, Coordinator of the Green/EFA group in the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and member of the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament

Profile photo of Civil College

Public Comment “Toolkit” – great tool for analizing large data

3. May 2010 – 23:25 by Civil College


We always have the pleasure, to give news about great tools on the edge. One of them is released again, aiming reliable data analisys as an easy process.

Searh, classify, annotate, verify and report on text data. A great combination of social networking and social science.


Dr. Stuart W. Shulman is an Assistant ProfessorUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst and an associate director at the National Center for Digital Government and also the director of the  Qualitative Data Analysis Program at
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

He is behind the development of the PCAT system, which is  based upon Shulman’s award-winning Coding Analysis Toolkit (CAT), also developed by QDAP. CAT enables researchers to code, validate, and analyze large digital, text-based datasets. CAT is designed for use with any digitized text dataset, whereas PCAT is tailored to improve analysis in the rulemaking process. “PCAT is an example of successful technology transfer from an academic laboratory to the government sector. It speaks to the needs of federal officials who must be responsive to the increasing volume of public comments in the new digital landscape.”

Although the tool is free and web based, it assists agencies in searching, analyzing, and responding to citizen comments submitted to federal regulatory agencies through sites such as is a centralized federal portal that enables “citizens to search, view, and comment on regulations issued by the U.S. government.” PCAT is designed to work seamlessly with bulk downloads from It allows agency officials to review the hundreds, thousands, or at times hundreds of thousands of comments submitted to agencies in response to the several thousand federal rules proposed each year.

The previous functionalities are showing, that this software has been designed in the USA for federal usage-  but it does not restircts its functions to the USA. It can extract data from

  • Federal Docket Management System archives
  • IdeaScale archives
  • RSS Feeds, archived or live
  • Email, Blog, Wiki, and other Web 2.0 documents
  • CAT-style datasets
  • Plain text, HTML, or XML documents
  • Extracted Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF document

What can you do with it?

  • Search for key concepts & code raw text
  • Annotate coding with shared memos
  • Remove duplicates and cluster similar comments
  • Auto-highlight unique and offensive language
  • Form peer and project networks
  • Establish multi-level credentials and permissions
  • Assign multiple coders to specific tasks
  • Easily measure inter-coder reliability
  • Adjudicate valid & invalid decisions
  • Generate reports in RTF, CSV or XML format
  • Archive or share completed projects online

I am really wondering, when our old Europe will have something like a Federal Docket Management System ( It might boost up some participation, but we would need to solve the language issues still…

Profile photo of Civil College

It’s your Parliament!

18. March 2010 – 17:03 by Civil College


We have seen various examples , how national parliaments are using the data available in parliament records to display on websites.

It is unlikely to have a function to easily find and compare voting records of political groups and individual representatives. The data is from the 2004-2010 years, and obtained from the official site.

This mashup site: provides this function with a really accessible user interface and a possibility to comment.

This social responsible mashup have built and mantained by Buhl & Rasmussen without any financial support from the EU or other is a typical case, that we citizens like, admire and even encourage to follow – when somebody has the spirit, talent and skills to point out and re-engineer information holes based on public data sources.

This example highlights the importance of open standards and open data, which technically makes possible to build a services like this. Just like in the offline world, where accessibility to relevant information is a cornerstone for real participation, here, accessing data in appropriate format (open standard) is equivalent.

Empowerment subnews.

In Hungary, a success story of right defender NGO, HCLU (TASZ) is highlighting the issue of e-participation in civil campaigns.

After a journalist investigation on the planned new Hungarian Motor Race court’s financial background –  to involve state aid and loan /see the story here  -sorry, but the editor has some bugs now/, – a couple of NGO’s, dealing with transparency have started to run a small scale email campaign, to get different data, related to the planned investment.

A few hundreds of emails has resulted a big scandal in the Hungarian political arena, and saved 35billion Euros for Hungary.

Writing an email, signing a petition does worth the time investment of a few minutes. Although, there might be only 1 from 1000 cases to produce such a big saving, but we have to be aware and spend some time to scan trough our facebook group messages and emails.

A few minutes every day can make us better e-and-non-e citizens!

Profile photo of Civil College

Technology for Transparency – a new Network focusing on developing countries

19. January 2010 – 23:52 by Civil College

A new interactive website of the previously introduced Rising Voices, the citizen media training initiative of Global Voices Online has just opened their new project’s website, which aims to map online technology projects, that promote transparency, political accountability and civic engagement in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, China and Central & Eastern Europe.

8 researchers in the next 3 month plans to document 32 case studies of the most innovative technology and transparency projects outside North America and Western Europe.
The team collaborates with well known, like minded mapping, discussion and toolset projects, such as ParticipateDB, Participedia, the International Association for Public Participation, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, ePractice, MobileActive’s mDirectory, and LocalLabs.
The project both open for volunteer researchers and welcomes contributors.
The site is offering beside twitter and facebook services, podcast and seem to fill a needed gap, by the sponsorship of the OSI and the Omidyar Network.

Profile photo of Civil College

The First Popular Egovernment unConference’s participatory aspects

24. November 2009 – 11:48 by Civil College

Most of us has at least some opinion around the Ministerial Declaration, which has been adopted before the high level e-government conference of the Swedish presidency: Teaming Up for the EUnion
There is some doubt, wheter this declaration is  making  change or not. As analyst Andrea Di Maio writes about it :

“If government 2.0 is about discontinuity, enabling bi-directional flows and engaging new stakeholders, the EU declaration has failed on every account.”

Personally – the Hungarian Government’s Electronic Center for Public Administration has not even translated the full text, only published an excerpt , without mentioning Open, Accessible, or Transparency, some criterias of good governance, mentioned in the declaration.

Moving beyond

In  my previous article, I have been writing about the participatory based, citizen centric event, which ran paralell to the 5th conference. Surprisingly, some of the guests of this unconference has been also participated in the “main” and the research focus “pre”conference, making the cultural flow rich between researchers, practicioners and businesses.

The openness of this conference has let Mats Odell, the minister for financial markets and local governance to hold a pecha-kucha styled presentation about the declaration – which has gained far more acceptance in this form, than in the official one, although

About 25-30 people – he has come to visit us there.  It might be the elections, it might be Magnus Kolsjö‘s advice, or some personal drive, or even the way, how Sweden is showing approach to open government. Who knows? But the Minister has missed something, by not staying with us, only for half an hour..

The Pretinent Art award – which has been launced before the unconference – winner has become a project of the Open Rights Group: Statebook.


Runners up included the Woberator from Holland, which breaks Ministries’ resistance to FoI requests by spamming them, and, the Italian mashup which maps tax evaders.

Sir Bonar has addressed unconference participants in a video message, which helped to focus on various aspects of diplomacy: see video here-

Beside the fact,that the unconference has been an event, run by citizens with the kind support of the local community place, Garaget, has showed some possible new trend of citizens. It was not yet about the first European Hackathon, or eDemocracy Camp, nor about the HackEu event series. But I am quite sure, that this is the direction, where Europe has to follow it’s forerunner examples, Australia, USA and the UK.

In my presentation held at the preconference, I was trying to show not only some good examples of citizen drived development  collaboration (with the state) but to highlight the socio-technological innovation behind it.

Photos of the unconference can be accessed here:

by the way, the well knowwn P2P foundation’s head, Michael Bauwens has made a great presentation on “Open Everything” in for the TEDx Brussels event at the European Parliament:

Profile photo of Civil College

Malmö open balance – information briefing

13. November 2009 – 10:01 by Civil College

I think, most of us can feel the hot air breezing us during thes days. I have just hit the engaging film from ConnectedRepublic supporting EUPS20, the declaration, which if you did not sign, it is high time, just now. I think all of us wishes it’s sucess, but have you tweeted about it today? Or called your facebook friends attention to it?

Above all scepticism of social media enthusiasm, there is really many things going on. Have you heard about, that OpenID biggest government boost is happening – according to Dana Blankenhorn, by the U.S. government endorsment of OpenID.

However, Malmö is a great city, with a lot of openness.  The Garaget, a historical place for civil movements and an innovative social solution of the City, is offering the really warm role of being the host of this event: First Popular European Egovernment Conference, which is taking place in Malmö, paralell to the 5th Ministerial Conference on Egovernment – more in a  Pecha Kucha / Unconference style, offering open spaces for discussion and agenda setting.

These events forerunner is the eGovernment Research and Innovation Conference , happening just right before these events.

Watching US NOW is good warmup. Do check it out, if you have not seen it.

It is obvious now I hope for everybody reading this blog, that the really intersting things are happening on two fronts. Most of us understands, that the open(source) community workers by hacking codes and fixing bugs are good citizens. Or more than good – they also share freely what they have back to the community. And those, who are going there and opening a space for discussion on the topic, they are partners for creating better governance. For now, the Swedish Minister, Mats Odell has confirmed his presence, according to the website of the Ministerial Conference thruogh Magnus Kolsjo‘s tweet.

I wish, that the social and scientifical openness will meet with good cultre.  Just as the Minister for Local Governments and Financial Market says on his site:

“I want to ditch the unwritten law that keeps us from standing out from the crowd and make way for the Ingvar Kamprads of tomorrow and other dynamic people – for a society that will harness your creativity and your potential, so as to benefit you and other people.”

Check out the conference twitter page here:

and look for the hashtags #malmo09 and #egov2009

Profile photo of Civil College

Mozilla’s citizen participation programme – although, it might not called in this way..

26. June 2009 – 10:03 by Civil College

The enourmous civil browser factory, Mozilla has just launced their world wide social responsible activity week call – the Mozilla Service Week! It spreads the core message of common development: “We believe the Internet should make life better. Join us the week of September 14-21, 2009, as we take action to make a difference in our communities, our world, our Web.”

Spread Firefox Affiliate Button

I think we agree with them from our job ;)

The week, which is a great initiative, just like the previously promoted OneWebDay, which has been celebrated among PepNet members.

This initiative is if we can say, more complex.

When we think about our job, our political or either personal perspective, the roles we play in this arena, might have some extra power to get from the community. From those, who are living in the neighbourhood, who are our chat-forum partners, or even just the old grandmother of our friend.

We can help. We can support the community where we belong to – anytime. Mozilla Service Week is an initiative to put focus on this issue for a week, and go and reach out for anybody around us.

I do hope, that this kind of civil activisim is suitable for all of us – and will make us to subsribe and offer voluntary activities individually.

For me the questions is also somewhere a bit below. Can we, or shall we as Pep-net do something for the larger community of citizens in an organized way during this week?

Download the badges, information here:

You can check some stories here:

by Csaba

Profile photo of Civil College

Next generation tools for digital activists

31. May 2009 – 22:52 by Civil College


Activists in the digital arena has to face with many different challenges – security, mobile enviroments, advance tools in citizen journalism and others. 

The group called TacticalTechnologyCollective  does a great and unique job on delivering strategic thinking guides and useful out of the box solutions and their collections for the new generations of activists – who are focusing on mostly the less developed part of the world. 

It is defenately comes to our advantage, if we check their informaiton package on Information Visualization for Advocacy or the general Maps for Advocacy – regardless we work on government side, or as NGOs.

Beside these useful guides, a beautiful set of books and dvds are packed together (with the great support coming from the Open Society Institute Information Programme) and available in a creative commons licence also for download.

Security in a box is supported by UN

To mention one of the next generation tools that they support – Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, a platform that crowdsources crisis information. Allowing anyone to submit crisis information through text messaging using a mobile phone, email or web form. 

The tool has been used to monitor the elections in India recently, and now you can check the site, which has been created to visualize the cases of Swine Flu:

Hey, most of the work TacticalTech does, support and share is opensource!